Winterizing Your Boat – Our Checklist

With colder weather just around the corner, now is the time to start thinking about winterizing your boat. As many boat owners know, they can require a lot of maintenance and costly repairs. By taking some time over a weekend or afternoon to prepare your boat, you can save money and get on the water faster when warm weather returns! Our experts at Eaton Ferry Marina share some tips on how to properly protect and winterize your boat.

Boat Winterization Checklist

Take Your Boat for One Last Spin

One of the first steps in winterizing your boat is to take your watercraft out for one last drive before storing it. Pay special attention to any damage or issues. This is the time to identify any strange noises you may hear or engine issues. This will also give the boat another opportunity to flush out or burn off any corrosion and debris in the engine or tubes.

Clean and Wash Your Boat

Take some time to thoroughly clean your watercraft. Dirt, grime, and stains that are left to sit during the winter can become permanent if left for extended periods of time. Wash the entire exterior and interior of the boat. After washing your boat, apply a layer of wax. Waxing the exterior of your boat will not only protect it from corrosion, but it will also prevent discoloration. If you have any fabric components, such as Bimini tops, spray them down and clean all stains.

Make sure to clean all glass components, like the windscreen, as well. This will prevent long term marks and will prevent foggy glass. Make sure to clean any moving parts and vacuum the interior. This is also a great time to use a conditioner on interior leather or vinyl seating. Treating these materials with a conditioner can extend their life and prevent any kind of cracking or damage.

Check for Any Kind of Damage

While cleaning your boat, now is a great time to inspect it for any damage that may be present. If you have a fiberglass boat, make sure to inspect it for any kind of damage or blisters. Blisters in fiberglass can be caused by extended periods of time in the water. You will want to repair these before taking your boat back out. Inspect the underside of the boat for gashes, cracks, or blemishes. Now is the time to replace any door seals or small parts that have broken as well.

Winterize the Engine

Possibly the most important component of your boat is the engine. You will want to pay special attention to the engine, as it has the most complex pieces and can be the most expensive part. Clean and remove any build-up throughout the engine. Inspect the inner components, as well as the prop and any other areas. Removing build-up and debris can prevent corrosion. Check for any accumulated moisture as well to prevent rust.

Flush the engine and coolant system with fresh water. This will remove any dirt or build-up throughout. Adding anti-freeze to the coolant system can help prevent damage from cold weather. Check all filters, including the oil filter, to see if they need to be changed out. During storage, drive belts can snap while under tension for extended periods of time. Remove and store drive belts to prevent this. Make sure to clean out all intake ports, as well as sealing all exhaust ports. Sealing the exhaust ports will prevent small animals, such as rats or mice, from gaining access to your boat.  

It is always recommended that a professional boat mechanic handle the winterization of your boat engine. Professional boat winterization services allow you to rest easy knowing your boat is taken care of.

Check on Your Battery

Inspect your battery for any corrosion on the terminals. Before storing the boat for a long period of time, take the battery out and store it in a warm place (i.e. not below freezing temperatures). Coat the battery terminals with a thin layer of grease to prevent corrosion. When you are ready to take your boat back out on the water, re-install your battery. This will extend the life of your battery and help get you back on the water quickly.

Lubricate Moving Parts

Lubricate all engine components, as well as anything else. Check swim ladders for rust or loose joints. If your boat has a door, lubricate the sliders or hinges. Grease the steering and control systems to keep them performing like new. Also, don’t forget to lubricate the propeller!

Inspect Your Prop

Before lubricating your boat’s propeller, now is the time to inspect it for any damage that may have occurred. If your propeller has taken damage, you may want to consider replacing it. Be sure to remove any kind of fishing line, dock ropes, or anything tangled up in there. The buildup of foreign materials such as fishing line, can foul your prop and leave your boat dead in the water.

Remove Valuables

This seems obvious, but many people forget this! Just because your boat is stored for the winter doesn’t mean it is completely safe. That is unless you have your boat in our secure dry stack boat storage facility.

Many people will leave cell phones, wallets, money, or expensive electronics on their boat. Remove all of these before storage to ensure you have them when spring rolls around.

Drain Your Boat

Once you have removed your boat from the water, make sure to drain all the necessary liquids out. This includes the bilge, water tanks, head, and pipes. It is very important to drain your boat properly, as sitting liquids can create an environment perfect for corrosion or mold.

Cover Your Boat

Cover your boat to protect it from dirt, moisture, or the elements. Properly covering, or shrink-wrapping, your boat is one of the best ways to protect it. Make sure your boat cover does not have any frays or tears, as these can grow over time. If you cover has a hole or tear, water and debris can enter your boat and makes all the work you did for nothing.

Most importantly, always remember to let your boat completely dry before covering. Covering your boat before everything is dry can create a nightmare scenario by trapping in moisture. If moisture is trapped when storing your boat, you may have a big clean up job to do come spring.

As many can see, winterizing your boat can be a daunting task. These tips, along with many others, are essential for protecting and maintaining your watercraft. If you don’t have the time or expertise, let our boat storage experts do it for you! In addition to winterization and boat shrink-wrapping, Eaton Ferry Marina offers dry stack boat storage. Our secure boat storage facility can accommodate boats up to 15,000 lbs and up to 27 feet in length. This is the safest way to store your boat for the winter. Our concierge service will take care of your boat as if it were their own. Best of all, it will be ready to go when you are in the Spring!